“Once upon a time, infants were quietly removed from orphanages and delivered to the home economics programs at elite U.S. colleges, where young women were eager to learn the science of mothering. These infants became “practice babies,” living in “practice apartments,” where a gaggle of young “practice mothers” took turns caring for them. After a year or two of such rearing, the babies would be returned to orphanages, where they apparently were in great demand; adoptive parents were eager to take home an infant that had been cared for with the latest “scientific” childcare methods.”
While the “practice baby” concept seems bizarre, I’m not sure it’s as horrific an idea as some insist. I’m not condoning it – of course an infant would be better off with two loving parents – but that wasn’t an alternative for these babies. Their options were living in an orphanage, or living in a practice apartment with a group of young women. Of the two, wouldn’t orphans receive more one-to-one affection and attention in the practice apartment with its high adult-to-child ratio? At the same time, their year away from institutionalized care increased toddlers’ chances at getting out of the orphanage and into a real adoptive home.
What’s your take on it?